MIAMI, Fla. — Clemson University faces Oklahoma on New Year’s Eve in the College Football Playoff with aspirations of playing one last game in early January.
The Sooners are the early favorite and are strutting in Miami with big words. The Tigers are embracing the role as underdog and using the big talk as motivation.
At first glance, Clemson and Oklahoma look to be about as evenly matched as one could hope. The Sooners are sixth in yards per game, and third in scoring. The Tigers are 11th and 16th, respectively. Oklahoma is 31st in yards allowed per game and 21st in scoring defense. Clemson is seventh and 18th in the same categories.
Both teams have incredible quarterbacks who are athletes capable of extending plays with their legs.
Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield both rank in the top 10 in quarterback ranking. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine is less than 10 yards from 1,300 on the season while the Tigers’ Wayne Gallman is 13 yards shy of the Clemson single season rushing record of 1,345.
Each team has a clear favorite receiver with Sterling Shepard and Artavis Scott both having over 75 catches for the season.
So how does one team pull away from the other? That is the million dollar question.
Last year, these two teams looked similar, although Clemson appeared at a disadvantage with Cole Stoudt starting after a disappointing senior season.
Stoudt would play out of his mind with over 300 yards and three touchdowns. The Tigers defense also played one of their best games of the season, picking off Sooners quarterback Trevor Knight three times and holding Oklahoma to under 300 yards of offense.
It’s unlikely Clemson gets another blowout against Oklahoma, but it’s a safe bet that the Tigers will be prepared, motivated, and focused on getting their 14th win of the season, despite being short three players.
Reports surfaced Tuesday night that kicker Ammon Lakip, tight end J.J. McCullough, and freshman receiver Deon Cain will all be suspended for the game after failing a drug test.
The Orange Bowl kicks off at 4 p.m. Thursday and will be televised by ESPN, TruVista channel 23.
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.